Review: Black Rock / Cert: 15 / Director: Katie Aselton / Screenplay: Mark Duplass / Starring: Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, Katie Aselton / Release Date: June 21st
The last time Mark Duplass was involved with a horror film we got the uneven Baghead. This time around he takes on writing duties only while his wife and co-star from The League, Katie Aselton, sits in the director’s chair. Black Rock goes to prove the old adage that just because you might see horror as an easy option for your directorial debut, that doesn’t mean you should do it.
We start off with three friends, Sarah (Bosworth) Lou (Bell) and Abby (Aselton), getting together for a weekend trip away to an island off the coast of Maine where they spent their carefree younger days. They bicker and gossip but it’s clear from the dialogue that we are supposed to think that they have a long history together. At night they meet a trio of hunters who turn out to be soldiers on leave from the war in Iraq. One of the soldiers gets a bit rough with the drunk and flirtatious Katie and in defending herself from an attempted rape she ends up killing him. The other two soldiers get quite miffed about this and start to hunt the three of them across the island.
Black Rock suffers a fatal self-inflicted blow fairly early on in that it presents you with a female dynamic that just does not work and never once rings true. You do not for a second buy that the three of these actresses are playing long-time friends and the mumblecore, semi-improvised-sounding dialogue just piles up on top of each other with everyone seemingly talking at once. The film will make you nauseous and not for the reasons expected.
Once the threat element is ramped up, the supposed tension you are supposed to feel simply is not there because the characters are too poorly sketched in for you to care what happens to them. The action scenes are badly shot and thought out and there is not even any good gore to mention. The bone sticking out of a limb effect has lost all of its power and has now become cliché.
For about 5 minutes Black Rock threatens to become interesting with a naked, dreamlike wander round the woods looking for weapons but soon wanders back into its standard feminist thriller format for a boring and obvious finale. To its credit though, the soundtrack is quite good.
Duplass has proved he is a good writer in the past but this feels like one of his earliest practice screenplays reheated and he can do much better. Black Rock is a film you don’t so much watch as grudgingly go along with; it just kind of happens.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10